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‘Businesses need to constantly promote and execute green activities’

Vinson Kurian Thiruvananthapuram | Updated on June 04, 2018 Published on June 04, 2018

Treeni Sustainability Solutions prides itself on developing solutions to transform sustainability from being a mere reporting-centric function to a business function focussed on impact and performance.

Its platform ReSustain enables organisations to develop a collaborative approach to sustainability, and transform the business mindset from a linear economy to a circular economy.

In an interview with BusinessLine, Ankush Patel, Co-founder & Chief Executive Officer, Treeni Sustainability Solutions, elaborates on how sustainability has the ability to affect the bottomline.

What does it take to graduate from ‘take-make-dispose’ to ‘reduce-reuse-recycle’?

Businesses need to graduate from the traditional ‘take, make, dispose’ approach to the 6R approach of repair, refurbish, re-manufacture, reduce, reuse and recycle. This encourages them to rethink how the product is being manufactured, its usage, impact on environment, and more importantly, reusability.

It takes strategic thought in product design, durability, material and associated services to graduate to a circular economy approach and requires the whole organisation to have a centralised vision towards sustainability. The accruing gains are financial, environmental and social value creation. It is imperative to prioritise durability of a product rather than ‘use it and throw.’ The positive effect on the immediate environment can have a domino effect across the organisation, suppliers and all stakeholders. As large MNCs start to embrace the circular approach in their business, they inspire SMEs and start-ups to give sustainability its due importance as a business function.

The key takeaway is that a resource-constrained world with a degrading ecosystem cannot sustain itself economically.

Are businesses aware, and what is their response to the need to make the transition?

Businesses are increasingly aware due to the substantial dialogue on the impact and importance of sustainability. However, the adoption of these techniques is at best as means of pure compliance, and not voluntary.

The good thing is that the required technology is easily available, and that is going to make things easier and doable. Some businesses in India are aware but have not been able to fully appreciate as to ‘what is in it for me?’

Agriculture & food, construction, iron & steel, textile, automotive & transportation sectors need to look at this transition more aggressively.

There is a need for businesses to constantly promote and execute environment-friendly activities. This could be done through simple initiatives such as recyclable packaging or CSR activities that would fuel the required investment towards the environment. Starting from within the office could help spread the message outside. The most important aspect to keep in mind is how we measure the impact as only things that can be measured can be managed.

How does the bottomline of a company benefit by effecting the transition?

Recycling of business waste means fewer disposals to landfill and less overall harm to the environment. The company can attract new customers and improve customer loyalty by demonstrating environmental responsibility through these recycling efforts. As demonstrated by several companies in Europe and the US, a company’s bottomline is positively impacted by this transition.

For instance, General Motors has turned trash into cash generating $1 billion in new revenue streams from the recycle and reuse approach.

Is the linear economy model transitioning into a circular model without us knowing it?

Definitely. A lot of credit goes to the new entrants as their actions have propelled them to adapt to a circular economy. In a circular economy, profits, jobs and growth come not from extracting or dumping, but from the work done and value created by handling resources with sufficient care to transform the ecosystem businesses that operate within.

There was a need for these activities to switch from linear to circular approaches, including ideologies such as doing more with less, cradle-to-cradle design, non-use of accumulative toxics, local recycling and composting at source, and reversing the global loss of ecological productivity.

Many of these common-sense approaches to business existed before the circular economy.

It’s great that the circular economy and the likes of The Ellen McArthur Foundation have created formal approaches, frameworks, tools and technologies to support the circular approach.

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Published on June 04, 2018
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